LOS ANGELES -- It took more than a half-century for the Houston Astros to win their first World Series and it felt as if they were celebrating more than a title -- and in many ways they were.
The final out of this seven-game World Series classic went to -- who else? -- second baseman Jose Altuve. The 5-foot-5 Altuve, who very well might win the American League regular-season MVP, calmly threw to first to begin the delirium.
"I couldn't believe it," the 27-year-old Altuve said hours after the last out, as teammates smoked big cigars and drenched one another in champagne in the visitors clubhouse at Dodger Stadium.
The MVP of the World Series, George Springer, just 28, saw Yuli Gurriel grasp the final out at first. Springer's instinct was to celebrate with one of the greatest postseason players in history, 40-year-old Carlos Beltran.
"I jumped in his arm like a 3-year-old," Springer said.
It was a good thing he did, because Beltran said, even after so many postseason games, he didn't really know what to do at the final out. Springer, though, seemed like a natural during the celebration. Springer jogged around the perimeter of Dodger Stadium's infield from interview to interview, holding his MVP trophy like a newborn.
Meanwhile, 23-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa completed a plan he first devised toward the end of the regular season, dropping down on one knee on national TV to ask his girlfriend, Miss Texas, Daniella Rodriguez, to marry him. He would receive congratulations from everyone he saw, including Astros ace Justin Verlander and his fiancée, Kate Upton, when they met at third base an hour or so after the final out.
What a moment! After Astros shortstop Carlos Correa proposed to his girlfriend, she called her mom to show off her engagement ring. (Photo by Rachel Ullrich)
But what stood out about the celebration is how much the Astros wanted to deliver the title to their city that has suffered so much since Hurricane Harvey hit.
It was not only Houston, but also Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Irma. The Astros have many ties to Puerto Rico, beginning with Correa and Beltran. Springer is half Puerto Rican.
In their comments, the Astros hit the right tone, realizing that a baseball game will not rebuild anyone's home or restore anyone's electricity.
"They are going through a tough time right now," Correa said specifically of Houston in this instance. "For us to bring a little joy and happiness through baseball, it means everything, as well."
The festivities of the postgame had a soundtrack from a pretty large Astros fan contingent that had moved down behind the road dugout. In Southern California, they sang, "Deep in the Heart of Texas!" They held a flag that said, "Don't mess with Texas," though their World Series title really has Connecticut roots.
Springer grew up in New Britain, Connecticut, and attended the University of Connecticut. Charlie Morton, who shut down the Dodgers for the final four innings to pick up the win, grew up in Trumbull, Connecticut. Morton's three young children collected dirt off the Dodger Stadium mound to bring home to their grandparents.
The field was filled with children. Some so young they didn't realize what had just been accomplished, playing on iPads or doing cartwheels in the outfield. But parents, wives and friends fully understood all the hard work that made it possible.
Altuve, for his part, was seldom seen during the celebration. He doesn't like champagne and he chose to stay behind the scenes. It, of course, meant just as much to him, maybe even more, as it did to anyone else in an Astros uniform. Altuve was there for the 100-loss seasons that helped the Astros build their foundation.
"It's a crazy journey," Altuve said. "But I think I was the only one in 2011, '12 and '13, those 100 losses -- three years in row. It's not easy. But I think I kind of like believed in the process."
The champagne on ice at Houston's clubhouse celebration
Altuve was the last one to talk in the Astros' clubhouse. He was packed into a corner, the celebration smoky and wet all around him. Lance McCullers Jr., who began the game for the Astros, tried to break through the crowd, saying, "He's the MVP. He's the best player on the planet, we get it."
The Astros got it. It was their first championship in their 56 seasons. They were celebrating beginnings, like Correa's engagement, and possible ends, as Beltran said he would soon make a decision about his playing future. And they looked forward to another party, the one they will bring to Houston.